Dog weighed down and thrown into Holywood lake

By Gabrielle Swan

A POLICE investigation is underway after a dog was killed when it was thrown into a Holywood lake with a weight tied around its neck.

A fisherman found the gruesome discovery last week of what is believed to have been an XL Bully or Staffordshire terrier type dog in the lake at Whinney Hill.

A local animal charity representative said the case was one of the worst she had seen while a Holywood councillor has claimed animal cruelty is on the rise across Northern Ireland.

The harrowing discovery was made at around midnight on Sunday, May 26 by a fisherman who was angling at the picturesque lake.

The fisherman spotted the body of the dog, which was partially floating, and pulled it ashore when he discovered it had been weighed down with a 5kg gym weight tied around its neck.

The fisherman reported his unsettling and sinister find to the animal charity, Lost Paws NI, and after an experienced charity volunteer attended the scene, the police were informed.

The PSNI has now confirmed a criminal investigation is underway and appealed for information.

The body of the dog was taken to the emergency veterinary clinic Vets Now, in Belfast, when a scan revealed the animal did not have a microchip.

The volunteer from Lost Paws NI, who asked to remain anonymous, said the case was ‘one of the worst’ she had been called out to.

“That wee dog probably thought she was going for a walk, then to just be thrown in a lake,” said the volunteer.

The volunteer said since the introduction of new laws controlling XL Bully dogs in March a lot of people are surrendering their dogs.

“A lot of people have been giving up their dogs to rescue centres, many of which are at breaking point. But this is a whole different level, so much worse,” she said.

The new laws affecting XL Bully dogs were introduced by the Department for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) requiring owners to properly record and account for their dog; keep the animal muzzled and on a lead in public and neuter their dog to prevent breeding.

Holywood and Clandeboye councillor, Lauren Kendall, strongly condemned the killing of the dog.

“The frequency with which animal cruelty is rearing its ugly barbaric head across Northern Ireland is very worrying, particularly at a time when animal welfare budgets have been cut,” the Green Party councillor said.

Police have confirmed an investigation into the animal’s death is ongoing and appealed to the public for information.

Sergeant McLaughlin stated: “Officers received a report that the dog was found weighted down in the water shortly after 00:15am. “The dog’s body was later recovered and taken to a local vet.
“Officers engaged with the local dog warden in relation to the matter and would appeal to anyone who noticed anything suspicious in the area around the above time mentioned, to contact police on 101, quoting reference 36 26/05/24.

A spokesman for DAERA said the Minister, Andrew Muir, has expressed his shock and horror at the death of the dog and abhors any incident where there is unnecessary suffering of animals.

“He has already signalled his intention to enhance the current animal welfare laws which allow the Crown Court to issue a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine on anyone found guilty,” said the spokesman.

“The Department understands the police are investigating this incident would urge anyone with information to immediately contact the PSNI to aid their investigation and apprehension of the offenders.”